Shortage of experts hampers Japanese financials in blockchain race

posted almost 6 years ago
Japanese financial firms risk falling behind on the world stage as efforts to adopt blockchain technology that promises to save billions of dollars in backroom processing and revolutionize the finance industry are hamstrung by a dearth of specialists.

In Japan there are relatively few startups in a country that often ranks low for entrepreneurship. Consequently, blockchain talent is scarce, and finance houses risk being left behind as global peers pass blockchain savings on to clients.

"At the moment, there just aren't any technicians in Japan," said Chief Executive Hiroshi Shimo of Consensus Base, hired by Japan's second-biggest brokerage by revenue, Daiwa Securities Group Inc, to develop a blockchain application.
"There was nobody who could do it inside the company or at the big IT firms," said Shimo, the sole full-time employee in the company he set up last year.

A shortage of talent may delay Japanese finance houses in reaching the same level of competitiveness. Blockchain positions attract on average around two qualified candidates versus 10 for other software positions.

The world's third-largest economy is barren ground for entrepreneurs. Last year, Japan ranked 28th for access to finance and 61st for commercial and legal infrastructure, showed data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

In fintech, 167 startups are registered with Japan Venture Research, which tracks entrepreneurs in Japan. In the United States, venture capital database CB Insights counts 3,300.

Japan has around 20 blockchain-related startups, said Chief Executive Yasunori Sugii of fintech firm Currency Port, while the U.S. has over 130. Those in Japan have raised $66 million over 10 deals since 2014, showed data from CB Insights, compared with the global total of $1.2 billion from 377 deals.
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